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7 Reasons To Visit Menorca Spain The Birth Place Of Mayonnaise

Minorca aka Menorca Spain part of the balearic-islands and birth place of Mayonnaise

Everyone has heard of the Spanish cities Barcelona and Madrid but chances are if you are not from Europe, you’ve never heard of Menorca aka Minorca, one of the Balearic Islands off the cost of Spain. Here is a high level look and 7 reasons why you should consider Minorca- the birth place of Mayonnaise for your next vacation spot.

One of the many benefits of living in France is exposure and awareness to new destinations and holiday spots. Last year our family discovered one such place in Spain called the Balearic Islands. A place which we had never considered as a destination vacation spot until we moved to France.

Brief primer of the Balearic islands

The Balearic islands mainly consist of four islands located in the Mediterranean sea that belong to Spain. They are Ibiza, Formentera, Mallorca and Menorca.

Each has a character different from the rest of Spain and each other.

Ibiza: With plenty of historical sites it is best known for the thousands of clubbers and gay visitors each year. .

Many celebrities also visit Ibiza like P Diddy, Kyle Minogue, even Elizabeth Taylor used to hang out at Ibiza.

Formentera: Much quieter, smaller and more rustic than Ibiza is the isle of Formentera which draws in a lot Italian tourists between July and August. Many of which come on package holidays.

Mallorca or Majorca: By far the largest and best known Balearic island is an extremely popular vacation destination for Europeans from Germany, Ireland, Poland, Scandinavia and the United Kingdom.

It has sun, high-rise hotels, charming old towns, gorgeous coves, bustling nightlife , hiking and more. It even has a pretty impressive Aquarium which my youngest daughter absolutely loved.

minorca is 130 miles south of barcelona

 

Then there is the isle of Minorca located just 210 km or 130 miles south of Barcelona.

Unlike some of the other Balearic islands like Ibiza and Majorca which have sprawling hotels and a active night-life, Minorca has remained relatively unchanged since 1722 and is perfect for the person or family looking for a more peaceful, relaxing, authentic and somewhat rustic getaway.

Here are just a few reasons to visit Minorca, the most charming of all the Balearic islands in my opinion.

Here are 7 Reasons To Visit Menorca Spain, One of the Main Balearic Islands

1-Menorca Is The First To See The Sunrise In Spain

Minorca is the first place in spain to see the sunrise

Are you a morning person who loves sunrises? Minorca is the first place in Spain to see the sunrise. Just a little trivia for you.

2- Learn To Speak Catalan

Learn to speak Catalan while in Minorca

Even though Minorca and the Balearic islands are part of Spain, the official language is NOT Spanish, It’s Catalan.

Catalan is an autonomous community inside a Spanish state as well as a very ancient form of Spanish which is spoken by almost 8 million people.

Other places Catalan are widely spoken include the Valencian community, Balearic islands, Rosellon France, Andorra, Alguer Italy and Aragon.


4- No high-rise condos or hotels

Stay in rustic converted farmhouses instead of high rise hotels

Due to it’s rich flora, fauna and scattered prehistoric sites, the entire 270 mile island was designated a Unesco Biosphere Reserve. As a result the island has remained relatively untouched by many unsightly modern developments.

You will see no high-rise condos or massive hotels (they are not allowed to be developed on or along the islands 120 separate beaches.)  Instead, tourists stay in rural hotels called agrotourismos, many of which are 17th and 18th century farmhouses converted to accommodate guests in old world style.

4- Outdoor Activities:

mallorca-aquarium.jpgIf you love outdoor activities: scuba diving, water sports, cycling, hiking,  golf, horseback riding and water sports than Minorca is the place to visit.  Because of it’s Unesco designation, it’s landscape and natural beauty is preserved making it the perfect place to explore and play outdoors.

5- Try Some Allioli: The Original Mayonnaise

In 1756, Duke de Richelieu landed in Menorca with 20,000 French troops in an attempt to kick out Menorca’s British rulers. During the Duke’s visit, he invented mayonnaise based on Allioli, the local Catalan variant of the garlic sauce Aioli.

The original Allioli used only olive oil and garlic but later an egg yolk was add to make emulsifying easier.

“All” means garlic in Catalan, “Oli” means oil.

Some speculate that Mayonnaise was invented in the capital of Minorca in a town called Mahon (Catalan: Maó,Spainsh: Mahón), hence the new sauces name became Mahonesa or Mayonesa in Spanish,  Maionesa in Catalon and Mayonnaise in French where it was first popularized and then took off all over the world to what we know today.

(By the way, Allioli sauce goes great with roasted and barbequed meats. )

6- Attend Boston University’s Summer Menorca Field School In Archaeology & Heritage Management

Excavate in Minorca through the Boston University summer program on the island of Minorca

If you or someone you know is interested in Archaeology, Boston University has a Summer program.

It’s the Menorca archaeology & Heritage Management program which takes place at Torre d’en Galmès on the island of Menorca, Spain.

The program consists of a six-week excavation campaign combined with lectures, laboratory work, and study tours of the island’s cultural and historical monuments.

Who knows what you’ll dig up there.

7- Listen to the island: Free Tour guide

Download Menorca-AudioGuides to listen to.

Get your own personal tour guide for FREE and discover the island of Minorca in four incredible routes:

I just love this.

You can download four different walking and driving tours onto your MP3 player and enjoy a self guided tour that will guide you along and learn about the history, the local customs, the stories and legends in a different and fascinating way. http://www.balearicislandstourism.info/crm/audiomenorca/index.php?idioma=en

The noble Ciutadella, the bourgeois Mahon, the archaeological route through the islands talaiotic culture and the port of Mahon route.

All of the audio is available for download onto your computer or music player in 5 different languages including English, French, Italian, Spanish and of course Catalan, the official language of Menorca and the Balearic islands.

Conclusion

There are so many more reasons to visit Minorca island including the fact that you can go island hopping to the other Balearic islands.

If you do go, just remember that you’ll probably need a car to get to many places.

Many places are closed during the winder so consider going during the spring and summer.

Also, be sure to bring some really good walking shoes.

Our Trip To Spain: 7 Tips For Families Who Want To Visit Barcelona On A Budget Without Stressing Out:

travel tips for budget conscience families who want to go to Barcelona Spain

Whether you’re a British family looking for a Spanish Holiday or an American couple looking for tips to reduce stress on an inexpensive European vacation, below are some things we did that will help anyone who wants to visit Barcelona on a budget.

What do you do when you live in France and your kids have 2 weeks off during the month of April for spring break? We decided to tackle one of our bucket list cities and visit Barcelona Spain. Not only was Barcelona better than I imagined, I was surprised at just how diverse, affordable and family friendly this city was for our budget conscious crew of five.

1- Find The cheapest way to get to Barcelona

Barcelona, find the cheapest way to get to Spain

It’s a no brainer. The most obvious way to save money on your trip to Spain is on transportation getting there. Will it be by plane, train, automobile or some combination of all three?

Since we live in France, just six hours from Barcelona and since we don’t own a car, we thought it would be fun AND INEXPENSIVE to take the train to Barcelona.

WRONG! The train was the most expensive option. 

One round trip train ticket from La Garde France to Barcelona was over 400 euros. There are five of us so that meant that it would cost us over 2,000 euros for our family to get to Barcelona by train (over 2,500 dollars) which was waaaaaaaay out of our budget.

We decided to rent a car for the week which cost us less than 400 euros. That 400 euros covered the cost of the car, the GPS, gas and car insurance.

There is lots to see when you drive to your destination

Not only was it more affordable to drive but we got to take in the scenery on the drive over. There are some amazing buildings and churches between France and Spain.

Kids love road trips: Rent a car

The kids seemed to really enjoy the road trip too. They sat in the back seat listening to music, watching movies and watching the world go by.

Ignore Kieran on the right, he gets a little car sick and he’s a moody teenager.

Tolls can be expensive when driving in europe. take lots of change and credit cards to pay them.

If you do decide to drive to Spain or anywhere in Europe, take care to bring a credit card and or lots of cash and change for the toll booths.

On our 6 hour drive, we encountered about 7 toll booths. A few were 2 or 3 euros but two of the toll booths were almost 16 euros. In total we paid about 75 Euros in toll booth fees.

Obviously if you do not live near Spain or your only option is to fly to Spain, you won’t be able to drive.

You can still find deals for flights especially during off peak season when prices can drop by half.

2- Save Money And Go during off season but be prepared for…

There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing

There is an old saying, “there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”.

If you decide to buy ticket during off peak season to take advantage of cheaper tickets, you should be prepared because tickets are cheaper for a reason.

One of those reasons tickets are cheaper is because the weather is not always optimal for sightseeing but that’s ok because there are still plenty of things to see and do when it’s cold and rainy outside.

For instance, during our trip to Barcelona, it rained 2 of the six days we were there.

Rather than stay indoors and cower, we chose to throw on our rain jackets, buy some umbrellas and visit places that involved being indoors.

We then saved the outdoor activities for the days when the forecast predicted sun.

3-Find Cheap Food

la-boqueria in Barcelona a huge outdoor market

Another way you can economize is on food.

Rather than tell you about all the great tasting and inexpensive tapas we had, I am going to tell you to go check out one of the outdoor markets called Mercat de Sant Josep La Boqueria, (open Monday through Saturday) located right off La Rambla. La Rambla is one of the most popular areas to walk around to shop, eat and take in the sites. Every guide book will tell you to visit it..

You have to visit the outdoor market St Josep La Boqueria in Barcelona

The St Josep market is literally a cornucopia of things to see, eat and smell.

It had everything from freshly squeezed juice smoothies, fresh produce and wonderful cheeses to meat counters that sold chicken and sheep heads. (The sheep head I am told is quite popular.)

barcelona-has some weird food too like sheep heads

Kieran and the kids all loved eating at the market. It was a fun exxperience

There were also many restaurant vendors selling the most magnificent foods at the open market. From fried octopus and traditional tapas to nachos and chips.

Lots of great street food to eat in barcelona

We ended up eating at the market several times. The kids all loved it because they each found things they wanted to eat.

Blake and I loved it because it was DELICIOUS AND CHEAP.

shopping at the mercado de la Boqueria. There is nothing you can't find there in terms of produce.

We also bought some fresh fruit and things we can’t find in France like refried beans and hot sauces. The French don’t really like spicy food and I do.

4-Unexpected Normal Things To Do

How do you tell someone to cut your hair if you can’t communicate?

One of the things we did were ordinary things we might do at home but because we were doing them someplace new in a language we did not speak, it added a whole new dimension to an otherwise ordinary situation.

Get A Haircut:

Get a haircut in Barcelona: Turn an everyday activity to a fun new experiece

It was not only cheap, less then 10 euros but also an adventure.

Neither of us speak Spanish so we were wildly flapping around our arms and mimicking scissors with our hands to try to tell the barber how short to cut Blake’s hair.

Fun times! Blake ended up with a crew cut and the shortest haircut of his life. I loved it, he not so much.

First visit to Burger King… BLEH!!!

Turn everyday things into special events when you visit new places

It’s been over 8 years since our family has eaten a meal from any fast-food restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King.

That means that our almost 6 year old daughter had never ever eaten at a McDonald’s or Burger King her entire life, aside from an occasional coke here and there for emergency pit stops. That all ended when we visited Barcelona.

Catherine was dying to try fast food but we could never justify taking her there until we were in Barcelona.

Everyone needed to take a bathroom break so we stopped at a Burger King to kill two birds with one stone.

1) Satisfy Catherine’s need to eat fast-food and 2)  let everyone relieve themselves in the bathrooms.

Catherine got some kind of chicken nugget balls ( I hope they were chicken) which she was excited about at first but then quickly became disenchanted with the taste of the chicken ball things. She did however love the paper crown hat which she forced us to take home.  We all just sat around and watched her enjoy her moment.

I think we’ll continue our tradition of no fast food and save it for trips abroad.

Take in the surrounding area

Take in the surrounding area and explore it all

We also did a lot of random exploring.

There was a huge cat sculpture which was just begging to be climbed.

Catherine enjoyed climbing the monstrous metal cat thing but was equally quizzical about the two balls hanging from the cats posterior. Needless to say, we handled the situation very delicately; no pun intended. 

5- Get Lost And Find Unexpected Fun Things To Do

get a chocolate bar as your entrance ticket to the museum of chocolate in barcelona

One spontaneous and inexpensive things we ended up doing was visiting a chocolate museum called “museu de la xocalato”.

It was totally unplanned. We were walking around near the Picasso museum and just happened upon it by accident.

Who doesn’t love chocolate?

It was a rather smallish museum but it was cheap. Less than 6 euros per ticket but instead of a ticket you got a bar of chocolate as your entrance ticket which you get to eat in the museum. That’s what Catherine is holding in the photo above.

Stop by the museum of chocolate in barcelona

Not only were there tons of information on how chocolate was discovered and hundreds of chocolate statues but there was a cool chocolate bar that served melted chocolate in a cup which we ate by dunking croissants into.    It was to die for.

6- Bring Foot Powered Scooters

bring a foot powered scooter to Barcelona and you can cover more ground with the kids

I had never done this before, but I read that Barcelona was a place where you walk a lot.

Having three kids, who have travelled a lot, I knew that one of their biggest complaints and most stressful things for me was going places where there was a lot of walking.

Not only did we cover more ground but the kids really enjoyed having scooters to jet around in some beautiful places. I am definitely going to bring them for our next excursion.

What do you think?   Did they enjoy themselves?

Andre is doing stunts on a scooter in Barcelona

Andre was doing tricks and so was Catherine.

There are lots of places you can ride down hill in Barcelona

One of my son’s rode his scooter down a hill while I took the funicular down the mountain with Catherine.

the kids enjoyed the scooters and rode in big wide open spaces in Barcelona

Everyplace with wide open spaces suddenly became a new place to explore on scooters rather than more walking in the hot heat. 

Bring a big scooter and you can ride with your kid

I am a genius!

I made sure to get a big enough scooter that Catherine and I could share because when she got tired, I just scoot along with her.

barcelona-annie-blake

Meanwhile… Blake and I were actually having a good time relaxing while the kids scooted around. There is nothing worse than kids on vacation who are whining about walking.

7- Go see some of Gaudis Greatest Works.

barcelona-CASA BATLLO by Gaudi

La-Sagrada-Familia

Gaudi was a Spanish architect born in Catalonia whose work was inspired by religion and nature. His works are more like art then architecture.

We went to see CASA BATLLO, this smallest of Gaudi’s famous works which has a dragon and sword on the roof and an interesting front facing façade. You can take a tour of the house which we did and I highly recommend you get the audio tour and get your tickets online since the line to get in can get really long.

Another one of Gaudi’s work is the Sagrada Familia Church. It is possibly one of the most unique and fascinating churches I have ever laid eyes on.  This gothic beauty looks like it could have been made with sand and melted wax to me. Pictures just don’t do it justice.

http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/

There are other Guadi works but I will let you do the research on that yourself.

Barcelona: A great budget friendly place

barcelona-annie-family

If you want to visit Erope on a budget or with kids, I highly recommend Barcelona. It literally has something for everyone on every budget. We plan on going again because one week was just not enough.

Question: Have you been to Barcelona? What did you think of it? If not is it on your bucket list of places to go?

 

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